Japan

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Japan the land of the rising sun, the Japanese are an island people, proud and pious with a rich culture of arts and letters. Japan is formed by 6852 islands in the Pacific Ocean. The biggest islands are Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu, who make up for 97% of the total area of Japan. The capital and largest city of Japan is Tokyo, the surrounding agglomeration ‘Greater Tokyo’ has almost 40 million inhabitants the second largest metropolis in the world. The entire country has 126,451,398 (2017) inhabitants. The country is a constitutional parliamentary monarchy. The legislature is in the hands of the Kokkai, the parliament. Japan is the world’s third-largest economy and a member of large organizations such as the UN, the G7, the G8 and the G20. The Japanese population enjoys the highest life expectancy of all countries in the world and the third lowest infant mortality rate.

For Japan, two names are currently in use in Japanese:

  • 日本 (に ほ ん) Nihon
  • 日本 (に っ ぽ ん) Nippon

 

The two words are identical in content but are only pronounced differently. Generally, Nippon is considered to be an official term. In this way, for example, he appears on stamps, at sporting events and in the name Nippon Ginkou (Bank of Japan / The Japanese Bank). However, Nihon is preferred for normal use. For example 日本人 Nihon-jin “Japanese” 日本語 nihon-go “the Japanese language”. In addition, one often finds the word 和 ‘Wa’, which derives from 大 和 Yamato, with which Japan is meant. For example 和風 (wafū) Japanese style, 和 食 (Washoku) Japanese dishes, 和 英 (Waei) Japanese-English (for example in the dictionary).

In the first part of the Chinese Tang Dynasty, Japanese scholars who had studied Chinese came up with a new name for their country. They used the Chinese expression for “origin of the sun, sunrise” because Japan is located east of China. In the Chinese of that time (Middle Chinese), the expression was ‘Nzyet-Pwun’. To this, the scholars added the Chinese suffix ‘-Kwuk’ (country), which led to the composition ‘Nzyet-Pwun-Kwuk’ (sunrise land, land of the rising sun). The consonants in the word were not pronounced in Old Japanese, so the term was simplified to Nip-pon-gu or Ni-pon-gu. The latter term evolved into Ni-hon-gu. The current forms Nippon and Nihon, where the “country” suffix has expired, are in line with this.

In Mandarin, one of the forms of Chinese that developed from Middle-Chinese, the expression evolved into Ra-Ban-Gua, an early form that Marco Polo registered as Chipangu. The early Mandarin word became Japang, which was heard by Portuguese traders in the 16th century. These traders may have been the ones who brought the word to Europe. Current Japan was first registered in 1577.

Traditional Japanese legends argue that Japan in the 7th century BC. was founded by the ancestral Emperor Jimmu. During the 5th and 6th centuries, the Chinese writing system and Buddhism were introduced, with which a long period of Chinese cultural influence began. The emperors were in name the rulers but the actual power was usually in the possession of powerful court dwellers, regents or shoguns (military governors).

The Dutch trading post on the island of Dejima was for some time the only contact between Japan and the West
Traders from Portugal, the Netherlands, England, and Spain, as well as Christian missionaries, arrived in the 16th century. During the first half of the 17th century, the shogunate of Japan suspected that they were actually ushering in a military conquest of Japan by the European powers, whereupon the shogunate broke all relations with the outside world. The only remaining contact was very limited contact with Dutch and Chinese merchants in Nagasaki (Dejima). This insulation lasted about 200 years until Commodore Matthew Perry forced the opening of Japan in 1854.

If there is one country I must visit at least once in my life it would be Japan, the sooner the better. For a long time, I’m interested in this country and I learned a lot about it. I Almost like everything there if not everything, from the culture to the people, from the language to their art, the food, the cuteness in their culture and much more. To me, it’s not the matter if I go, but the matter of when I go.

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May we meet again!

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